A STAR IS BORN!
- By MICHAEL JACOBO
- Photos Courtesy of WARNER BROS.
Hollywood’s full of remakes; we all know that. Nothing’s original, and beloved classics are always butchered when they’re re-done for a modern audience. But there’s one film that’s kind of made to be re-made. It’s almost an unofficial rule in Hollywood: every 20-30 years or so, A Star is Born needs to be updated to reflect and appeal to the contemporary American audience. And, oh boy, do they have the perfect one for this generation.
A Star is Born has the connotation to be the vehicle for a classic, conventional, ingenue-esque actress or artist. Lady Gaga definitely isn’t an up-and-coming artist (an actress, maybe, but by now we can all agree she can do anything; she actually won a Golden Globe for her role in American Horror Story: Hotel), but her performance in the film, directed by Bradley Cooper, has already garnered much praise from critics following its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival.
The first A Star is Born was released in 1937 and starred Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. Like Gaga, Gaynor wasn’t exactly a “star” on the rise: she was the first actress to ever win the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929. Her performance in the film garnered her a second nomination, no win, and she retired from acting just two years later. The film, about a fading movie star (March) who helps the career of a rising actress (Gaynor), was said to be based on real Hollywood couples at the time. The film was produced by David O. Selznick, arguably one of the most popular producers. Working with MGM, he could be credited with discovering several stars of Hollywood’s golden years.
The second A Star is Born was released in 1954 and starred Judy Garland and James Mason. A musical, this was Garland’s first film with MGM in four years and was marketed as her comeback; she was even reunited with one of her several Wizard of Oz directors, George Cukor. Also because it was a musical, the story was changed to follow a matinee idol, whose career is in decline, who helps an aspiring singer.
The film was again remade in 1976 starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Taking a leaf out of the music scene at the time, it follows an aging, alcoholic rock star (Kristofferson) who falls in love with a young singer (Streisand). Her career ascends, while his declines. Both actors are no strangers to any music scene: Kristofferson had been an established songwriter and even dated troubled rock star Janis Joplin. And Streisand, of course, was a Broadway legend who’s rise to fame was in the production of Funny Girl.
And finally, this brings us to the third A Star is Born remake. Early development had Clint Eastwood directing it (this, honestly, sounds like it would have been a great choice) and Beyonce (!) starring in it, with a script inspired by Kurt Cobain. Beyonce subsequently dropped out due to her pregnancy and Eastwood then wanted Grammy-winning jazz musician Esperanza Spalding to star in it (again, this would’ve been great). Eventually, Cooper attached as star and director, then Gaga signed on to co-star. The paring, unusual at first, seems to have struck a chord with audiences and critics alike.
Cooper, in his directorial debut, has amazed the masses with his skills and prowess. No one can doubt or call into his question his acting chops (he’s been nominated three times for acting in Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and American Sniper), but, like Gaga, we can all be assured the man can do anything. Also starring is Sam Elliott (The Ranch, We Were Soldiers) Dave Chappelle (The Chappelle’s Show), Andrew Dice Clay (Blue Jasmine), and Anthony Ramos (Hamilton). Cooper approached Lukas Nelson, Willie Nelson’s son, to contribute to the soundtrack, which will be released by Interscope Records.
Both leads may already be bonafide stars, but October 5th will be when a masterpiece is born.
“A Star is Born” opens October 5th.